Gowtham's online fundraiser for Education | Milaap
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    Gowtham Ragavendar



My name is Gowtham. My colleague Gaury and I have been Teach For India (TFI) Fellows for the past 10 months now, as part of their 2-year Fellowship. We teach Grade 6 and Grade 7 students at a low-income private school in Kharadi, Pune.

So first, the basics. We teach in a very small establishment. Sunrise EMS is a school run by a private trust embodied by local leaders from Sainath Nagar, Kharadi, and it serves as an easy and inexpensive choice for the local community there. The building consists of only 6 classrooms, basic infrastructure (fans, benches, blackboards), 1 office-cum-staff room and 1 toilet. Adolescents and teachers alike are present in tiny spaces, with just about enough room to walk and manoeuvre.

Our students are a rather smart bunch; a literacy assessment shows that quite a lot of them are capable of reading at grade level. There is a need to mention this because in most schools in India (and the kind of schools TFI wants to impact) there is a shocking gap in achievement. Nationally, only 47% of Grade 5 students can read a Grade 2 level text. To put this in a different light, more than half of India’s ten year-olds find it tough to read simple 5-word sentences. And, if left unchecked, this gap grows wider with age. Specifically in the community that we work in, there is poverty, alcoholism among parents and rampant sexism. The parents, though being very much invested in their wards’ progress in school, are ill-equipped to support their education process beyond a point.

So the kids at Sunrise EMS have beaten extraordinary odds to be able to read at or around grade level. This process has definitely been aided a great deal by them having strong teachers. This is the 4th year that this set of kids are being taught by TFI Fellows, and the Fellows before me have had huge influence.

Another important cog in this wheel of growth has been the Community Center set up by Harsh Maheshwari and Manoj Iyer (former Fellows - or 'Alumni’, as they are called at TFI) in the beginning of 2014. After spending a lot of time in the homes and neighbourhoods of our kids we realised that they were being exposed to an environment not conducive to learning. This was acting as a major obstacle towards achieving sustained change in their lives. In order to overcome this problem, the Fellows decided to build a space for our children which will facilitate their growth and transformation.

Thus, the Kharadi Community Centre was conceived an after-school enrichment space, intended to help students pursue inquiry-based learning in a holistic manner. The centre is open seven days a week, for a minimum of four hours a day. We have set-up a fully equipped library, game zone, and computer lab. The Centre is also part of The Nalanda Project, a research project trying to link student achievement to Technology. As a part of this project we have been given Akash Tablets along with a server which has Khan Academy content pre-loaded on it. The kids use the tablets independently to practise and master content that has been taught in the classroom.

Students are encouraged to spend their time wisely, and have a daily schedule consisting of recreation, reading, and homework. The centre is completely free and caters to all the students of Sunrise English Medium School, Pune, as well as interested kids from the surrounding community. Kids can pursue independent projects, attend craft workshops, and become Monitors who help facilitate the daily running of the centre. We also provide a lot of exposure opportunities for kids which generally go beyond what the community has access to; opportunities like coaching the football team, honing their debating skills through Model United Nations, setting up dance and arts classes etc.

This space is unique to our school, and has proved indispensable to us in reaching consistently high levels on academics, values and exposure. The conducive, collaborative environment has made it possible to push beyond barriers this year, and aim for greater heights in the coming years. In the short run, the Community Center exists a safe haven for our children and in the long run we hope the Center will become the nucleus of a transformed community.

We like to think the progress made by our class and Centre stands as testament to the fact that the odds, even though seemingly stacked too high, can be surmounted by dedicated investment and hard work. And it is on us, collectively, to take it to the next level. This is where we need your help.

Here is a list of the current upcoming and ongoing projects at the centre, for which we are trying to raise funds:



Estimated cost

Computer lab - repairs and software installations


Rs. 40,000

Science laboratory- setup


Rs. 30,000

Centre rent


Rs. 15,000 per month

Painting the centre + creating mosaics


Rs. 40,000

Projector and screen


Rs. 40,000

Just For Kicks – Football gear


Rs. 20,000

Your support will help sustain the growth and development of our students, and ensuring that where they come from in life does not determine where they go.

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